Live Photos, 3D Touch & Universal Apps: Apple hijacks Microsoft's lingo

Consequently, companies work diligently to present their products and services in a fashion that ensures that what they are selling is perceived as superior to what their competitors are offering.

Rarely in history, however, does a company leapfrog significantly ahead of competitors in a given area legitimizing a lasting claim to superiority.

As such, we are often left with a battle of words over similar product offerings as competitors wrestle for the minds of consumers. Some companies are better at this than others.

3D Touch, Living Images and universal apps, for example, are familiar terms to many Microsoft fans. Apple, however, has positioned itself to wrest those terms from Redmond as they market their flavor of similar technologies.

iPhone 3D Touch

Again, as most people know, marketing has far more to do with perception than with reality. It is often the better marketer that wins the day.


I'd first like you to propel your memory over the mountain of excitement Microsoft produced on October 6, 2015, and land ever so briefly upon the September 9, 2015, event of that other tech company. Recall, if you will, how Apple, with apparent systematic intent, seemed to usurp those three terms that Microsoft has used to describe features (and potential features) within its ecosystem of products?

  • 3D Touch is being used by Apple to describe on the iPhone, what is called Force Touch, when the same underlying technology is applied to Apple Watch. Of course, the term 3D Touch brings astute Microsoft enthusiasts minds back to the (canceled) McClaren, which boasted true three-dimensional interaction.
  • Live Photos, which automatically provides users a "gif-like" image of any photo looks very much like Microsoft's Living Images.
  • Apple applied the term Universal Apps to apps that run across just two (iOS and tvOS) of the several operating systems the Cupertino company maintains. Of course universal apps as part of Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform will run on all devices and are, therefore, well, universal.

Live Photos

It's all in the mind

Names matter. The frequent litigation we have seen as firms battle over product or services names is proof of this statement. To be clear, I'm not claiming that Apple's use of the aforementioned terms is a legal matter. I'm looking, rather, at how the extent to which companies go to protect a name validates the psychology of it all.

Firms spend millions of dollars on market research in an attempt to discover what appeals to the mind of consumers.

You see, when all is said and done, fancy specs and features don't ultimately sell a product. It's the message surrounding a product and how it is presented to and received by the human mind that essentially entices us.

The company that can occupy a certain place in the mind of a consumer wins the day.

The name of a product, feature or service is key to its taking root in the mind and having preeminence over similar offerings from rival companies. Thus, whichever company has the better message, not necessarily the better product, usually wins the coveted position in the minds of consumers.

Furthermore, whichever company has the more powerful brand name usually has the more effective message.

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

This line by Juliet from Shakespeare's timeless tale was the maiden's assertion that Romeo's family name was, despite the feud between their families, irrelevant to her.

Most members of each family, without deeper contemplation, simply followed the status quo. The standard set by an established behavior of categorizing members of the rival family based on their name simplified how each family evaluated the members of the other. (Stick with me.)

There was no intellectual effort required to delve deeper into understanding an individual. No patience needed to hear the rational arguments from the opposing side. For the Capulets and Montagues, an efficient system of limited critical thinking provided a simplified means to keep each member of the families thinking the way the majority wanted them to think. There was power in the names.

There's power in a name

You see, sometimes powerful names are leveraged to control human behavior. In Romeo and Juliet, the unwary members of the rival families were easily moved by the will of the majority. Powerful brands have a similar influence on consumer behavior today.

Some brands are so powerful that they influence the establishing of an efficient system of limited critical thinking in the minds of consumers. Such a level of devotion is elicited from these fans that they have no motivation to delve deeper into the messages from the firm to which they are devoted. Nor are they open to entertaining the arguments of rival firms. They simply follow the status quo. They trust the brand. Thus, any message emanating from a firm in such a position has a profound market influence.

Apple is clearly one of the most powerful brands on earth. With the event-like status of its product announcements and the firms undeniable influence in the media, Cupertino's ability to influence consumer behavior is undeniable.

It is against this level of marketing prowess that Microsoft finds itself positioned. Redmond is in the precarious position of trying to retain its grasp on terms that Apple wants the industry to associate with its products.

Lock in

Once we know the name of something our minds begin to place it into a category. This categorization is where things begin to lock into a particular place in our thoughts. Once locked into that place any information that contradicts that established position is often rejected without much thought.

This "lock-in" status is the position every company wants its offerings to occupy in a consumer's mind. They want a feature or product name so intricately associated with their company that similar names of similar (or superior) technology are rejected by consumers with little thought.

For this reason, I believe Apple, with clear intent, seized upon the names 3D Touch, Live Photos and universal apps during their globally publicized "Hey Siri" event. Cupertino wants consumers, developers and the industry at large to think, "Apple," when they hear these and similar terms despite previous or potentially superior offerings by rivals.

3D Touch so close, yet so far away

Microsoft's highly anticipated McClaren, which boasted 3D Touch and an exploding tile (opens in new tab), mix-view interface was slated for the Fall of 2014 before its untimely cancelation. Unlike Apple's apparent "play on words" implementation of 3D Touch, Microsoft's vision for actual 3D Touch is "Hololens" ambitious. Microsoft's version, which even recognized gestures, allowed for touchless interaction with the device.


I concede that Apple's application of their take on 3D touch is first and foremost – here. Rather than being a hoped for function on a now defunct device. Second, I understand that it is still early, and developers will likely develop imaginative ways to utilize Apple's 3D Touch.

If Microsoft does bring its vision of 3D touch to market, its touchless and mix-view manifestation will be technologically beyond Apple's implementation. It will, however, have an uphill battle in that its execution will have to be flawless. Any hiccups will be compared critically to what will be a more familiar 3D Touch "Apple's way."

With the Apple name backing it, the idea of 3D Touch when applied to smartphones may be lodged in consumer's minds as something that "Apple" does. This perception is exactly what Apple wants.

Live Photos

Microsoft fans have long enjoyed Living Images on their devices. As mentioned above, Live Photos is Apple's take on this long established concept (Samsung uses Animated Photo). A Living Image/Live Photo is created by brief videos being recorded whenever a photo is taken. These images reveal momentary movement before they settle on the still photo. Apple's implementation also adds the dimension of recording sound.

A recent video (below) highlighting the advances in Microsoft's camera app reveal that Living Images will now be shareable across all Windows 10 devices as well as social media.

By contrast, Apple's Live Photos, though shareable to all Apple devices, are not shareable to social media. Apple's purposeful promotion, however, of the feature during the widely viewed "Hey Siri" event will likely propel it to the forefront of the race to reach consumer's minds.

Microsoft's marketing of Living Images via obscure videos and techie blog posts, unfortunately, keeps Redmond's offering hidden in that space where the normal consumer is unlikely to find it. This strategy virtually ensures that Apple's Live Photo's will become the recognized representative of this tech in the minds of consumers.

Universal Apps

Microsoft has successfully built a Universal Windows Platform that allows for a shared OS core and single app platform across all device families.

By contrast, Apple's implementation of Universal Apps is restricted to iOS and tvOS, excluding OS X and watchOS. Its limited breadth makes the application of the term "universal apps" ironic.

Apple's direct appeal to consumers, however, positions the idea of universal apps via the Apple TV(tvOS) and the iPhone (iOS) connection conceivably within reach of the minds of general consumers. If Apple TV becomes popular enough that these "universal apps" are frequently used across iPhone and Apple TV, consumers will begin to associate the term universal apps with Apple.

Furthermore, Apple's 19 million dedicated developers may begin to embrace the idea of Apple's universal apps. It is no secret that Microsoft has found it challenging to solicit developers support for the Windows ecosystem. Even with the clear benefit a 1.5 billion install base, 6x increase in app downloads in Windows 10, and a four-time increase in revenue to developers, Microsoft is still trying to win developers.

Apple already has developers. These developers will simply be learning an additional concept about how apps function across Apple's platforms. This association can conceivably become how many developers begin to view the name universal apps.

To the masses

Microsoft's Universal Platform, Living Images that can be broadly shared and a hopeful revisit to true 3D touch, gives Redmond the technological edge over Apple in these, as well as other, areas. However, perception matters especially in marketing. Because of Apple's brand, the company's name has a powerful influence on the masses. This is a frustrating reality for many Microsoft fans.

Microsoft is in a place it has never been before. Their investments to be the platform of platforms are beginning to materialize. Additionally, as seen during their #Windows10Devices event, they've learned to define what a product is based on how it will help a consumer get things done rather than by the specs the device possesses.

Still, Microsoft's fundamental approach to marketing, per Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela, is less focused on ad campaigns and TV spots and is more geared toward building marketing into their products. (Capossela conceded that Microsoft gleaned this from Apple and Google.) In essence, Microsoft is building connections into products that encourage users to use its other products (i.e., integrating Skype into Edge).

Conversely, Apple spares no punches with their diverse and aggressive consumer-focused ad campaigns. As we stated earlier whichever company has the better message, not necessarily the better product, wins the coveted position in the minds of consumers.

Living Images/Live Photos, 3D Touch, and universal apps are representative of the battle between Apple and Microsoft for a position of particular features in consumer's minds. The war is one of ecosystems. As such the recent Windows 10 and unprecedented "PC Does What?" campaigns are representative of Microsoft's attempts to position its ecosystem in the minds of consumers.

Perhaps Microsoft will succeed in conveying a message that, like Juliet defied the Montague name, causes consumers to defy the influence of Apple's name.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

  • apple invented one thing...COPYING!  
  • iCopy ?
  • iCOPY-EVERYTHING-THEN-WE-LIE. We are CrApple, the home of COPYING, STEALING, FOOLING, PRETENDING, MISLEADING, BRAINWASHING,........and the #1 invention we have done is/was, we have created world's dumbest """"iSHEEP"""", that buys anything at any price we feel like selling it to them at, for prods that is 4 years ""behind"" ALL other Brand's technologies. So if you are an iSHEEP, come on down we sell you our overrated junk, and rip you off, again and again and again..................  
  • Complete agreement there. The only thing I'll give Apple credit for is iTunes.
  • iTunes was and remains junk.  The only thing that iTunes dominates in is content, however, competitors like MusicMatch were far superior back in the day.  Even as a music player it is crap, players like Winamp/Foobar/MediaMonkey/even WMP were and to this day are better. Two reasons why iTunes prevailed: - Name begins with 'i' - An Apple service
  • lol... btw i think microsoft didnt push the living images like apple is doing... and the implementation of it on the lockscreen is pretty sweet... hope ms comes with something like that.... 
  • Exactly. "Microsoft's marketing of Living Images via obscure videos and techie blog posts, unfortunately, keeps Redmond's offering hidden in that space where the normal consumer is unlikely to find it. This strategy virtually ensures that Apple's Live Photo's will become the recognized representative of this tech in the minds of consumers." No kidding. Living Images was great - but useless. Not even the built-in Windows Phone app could show them!! How crazy is that? You had to get a special app or go into the Camera --> Preview to see them, and only by going back and forth to a picture could you see the animation. Even in W10M, where the Photos app shows the animation, you still have to go back and forth to show it (as far as I can tell, I haven't been able to do it any other way). Why isn't Living Images on the lock screen? Start screen? Live tile? This article just highlights how Microsoft manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory every time.
  • Well. It might help is MS was actually even trying. I live in Europe. No advisertising what so ever. No Microsoft store. Nowhere to be found. There is one budget telecom shop actually advertising Windows Phones. At bus stops.. Look around, and you'll find lots of apple stores. Stores only dedicated to selling Apple stuff. Apple commercials everywhere. It's like MS is non-existent. Then you get the Xbox one launch. In the benelux area, we got it 10 months later then the rest of the world.. 10 months. And then the quation why sales lack..
  • yep. in Romania Apple and Samsung commercials all over the place.
  • None of this matters. Apple/Samsung makes commercials and MS sends videos to tech sites...Apple/Samsung makes commercials that advertise the features their workers created...MS makes commercials about how kids from another country MAY use their products in 10-15 years...   Guess who's winning?
  • Who's winning? Let's see, MS has more than 15 businesses over a billion dollars! That makes them stable through decades! Apple has what that really matters? The iPhone, just one line of products with like 2 models a year! Once this goes down, well in the long run, "Guess who's winning"?
  • You say they make two models a year like it's a bad thing. It means they're focused like a frakking laser, something I wish MS was with the Lumia line. I have a feeling that if you don't like how Apple handles their product releases, then you're not going to like what Panos Panay does with MS hardware. Less models, more focus, higher profits. Also, everything Apple has matters to Apple. All of their product lines are profitable, and that really is the only thing that matters.
  • I guess, I wish, In the age of Nadella there could be some differences. Just wait and see.
  • This article makes me hate apple so much
  • This article makes me hate Microsoft's marketing department so much.
  • As you should! Microsoft desperately needs to fire its entire marketing team and hire a REAL PR firm. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." That's a common phrase used in sales and marketing. Apple and Google do this as well as anyone. The biggest advantage Apple has, in my opinion, is the stranglehold it has on the film, music, and photography industries. Unfortunately, in our society, people want to be like celebrities; they wear the same clothes, use the same lingo, and buy/use the same products. In general, people are sheep. They'd rather take advice on technology from Kim Kardashian, rather than computer expert. They'd rather take car advice from Blake Griffin, rather than a mechanic. As little as it makes sense, it's the truth. Because of the wide-spread use of Apple products in the entertainment industry, entertainers use Apple products, which in return, is the best marketing platform a company can use. If I were MS, I would work on getting someone like Mark Cuban (who's not only famous, but known for his technological prowess) to endorse/support the MS platform.
  • I think the fundamental issue is that iPhones are good and Windows Phones aren't.  It's basically that simple.  Apple may have better marketing and a "reality distortion field" but they don't really need it.  At least compared to Windows Phone, there is nothing to recommend MS' offering. If there was something -- anything -- you could do on a Windows Phone that you can't do better on an iPhone, then there would be some room for discussion.  But as it stands, there isn't.  There's only some interface differences which, at the end of the day, aren't really all that profound.  There isn't even an advantage if you are a MS "fanboy." Not Skype. Not Office. Not Lync. Not Exchange. Nothing is better on Windows Phone. And so, people use the iPhone because they know that whatever they want do to, even have strong continuity with their PC/Windows/Office-based life, there's a good chance they can do it best on an iPhone. In contrast, there are tons of things you can do on Android that you can't do on an iPhone, and thus, Android sells in droves.  You can argue forever about whether a Galaxy or G or One device is better than an iPhone.  But you'll be laughed out of the room if you try to argue that WP is competitive with those devices. MS has to differentiate its product somehow.  Actually, MS had to differentiate it somehow.  They didn't.   And now, even on the cusp of launching something pretty cool that you can't do on an iPhone (Continuum) or, really even Android, nobody cares. The window of opportunity has shut.
  • Yeah, you nailed it here. I don't think they EVER have a chance to get the marketshare that apple or google has in the mobile arena, but if they keep their promise to make enthusiast devices, and if the steam of UWP eventually bears something then I'm fine with a small marketshare phone. That being said, I'm not a huge app user, so there's nothing lost for me personally.
  • The differentiator with WP used to be the cameras, but great cameras have now become ubiquitous on flagships.
  • Lol are you serious? There are many, many things that windows phones can and do better than iPhones and others still that iphones cant do at all. To name a few : File management, transferring files through bluetooth, customizing home screen, simple things like setting mp3 as ringtones, copying movies and music from a pc/other phones without having to sync through iTunes. A much better camera Experience wirh control over pretty much everything except aperture. There are other things but this is what imediately comes to mind
  • And other OEMs churning out W10 devices and sd cards and NFC (Apple just got this so not on older devices) and let's be honest, Apple have just 19% of the smartphone market share, that means 81% of people are NOT choosing iPhones :)
  • In the world in the US on the other hand they have about 44% market share and furthermore the user above said everything correctly, nothing is better on Windows Phone. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android because it's superior to the Windows Phone one
  • There are bajillions of apps that let you transfer files via Bluetooth and otherwise on iOS. Home screen customization is one of those " interface differences which, at the end of the day, aren't really all that profound."  Live tiles are okay and all, but don't work very reliably and have been 98% superseded by the notification drawer. Also, while you can't get to system files, you can browse your documents and photos on iOS, which is 95% of what you can do on WP. As to things like mp3 ringtones, copying